Voyageurs National Park biologists conducted aerial surveys to determine the number and location of bald eagle nesting pairs present in the park. A second occupancy survey will be conducted in early June to check on the status of occupied breeding territories and search for late incubating pairs.
The park follows the recommended conservation management actions of the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Management Act (16 U.S.C. 668-668c, 1940 as amended), a federal law enacted to protect America’s national bird from disturbance and harassment.
Each year since 1992, the park has temporarily closed the land and water areas around active bald eagle nests to visitor use during their critical nesting periods.
Some eagle pairs nest in late March and early April and others may not initiate nesting until late April or early May.
The closed areas are marked with closure signs and buoys. Park officials are asking both motorized and non-motorized watercraft users to not travel within 200 meters of nests where bald eagles are actively nesting during the closure period (early May through mid-August).
Boaters are also encouraged to not stop on the water within the 200 meters near active nesting sites.
The breeding areas around two of the park’s breeding pairs are temporarily closed to campers and other human activities. After the young leave the nest, these temporarily closed park areas will be reopened for public use.
Two of the park’s 291 developed Day Use, Tent, and Houseboat sites are affected by the temporary closures. The closed developed areas are:
Kabetogama Lake-Happy Landing Campsite (K-11) and Yoder Island Houseboat Site (K-37)
If more breeding areas are found with actively nesting pairs that fall within conservation management guidelines after this news release is issued, more park areas may be posted closed.
People play a very important role in protecting nesting eagles and other birds. Individual eagles differ in temperament and tolerance to human and natural activities.
Some are easily displaced by human/eagle interactions, whereas others are more accustomed to close interactions with humans. April, May and June are particularly sensitive periods for nesting eagles.
Recent research in Voyageurs National Park has confirmed that protection of eagle nests close to developed sites increases the chance for nest success and has contributed to the overall recovery of bald eagles in the park over the last 40-plus years.